Political Cleavages in
This chapter analyzes the issue dimensions that define the main political cleavages in the emerging post-Communist democracies, emphasizing the patterns of political competition in Russia and East Central Europe. Chapter 4 focuses on Latin America. If there is an important democratic-authoritarian cleavage in new democracies, it should be possible to find evidence of it. The evidence presented in this chapter and the next shows that the democratic- authoritarian cleavage has been important in the Latin American new democracies analyzed but in only some of the post-Communist new democracies. Russia is the best example.
As argued throughout this book, party competition is influenced by issue- oriented cleavage dimensions. The configuration of such dimensions is related to several characteristics of a society--including the relative experience with democracy and authoritarianism, societal and elite preferences on economic policies, social and cultural characteristics and orientations, the level of economic development, and issue visibility. General issue configurations among the mass publics are likely to define political identities that serve as a basis for party preferences. As mentioned earlier in the book, issue divisions are strong and influential sources of cleavage. In some cases issue divisions crosscut structural differences in society; in other cases the former are anchored in the latter. Divisions along issue orientations are likely to form important political cleavages as long as those divisions are linked with relatively stable party preferences.
One of the arguments in this book is that new democracies are characterized by an important democratic-authoritarian cleavage that polarizes the party electorates during transition to and consolidation of democracy. In some cases, foundational elections--including plebiscites and referenda on the authoritarian regimes--make the division between pro-regime and antiregime